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Writing

How to Practice Writing: 10 Tips for Honing Your Writing Skills

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 22, 2020 • 3 min read

Producing good writing is a lifelong pursuit that often requires you to practice writing outside of paid work. If you’re just starting out as a writer, it’s important to develop regular writing practice routines that will help improve your skills and increase your output.

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10 Ways to Practice Writing

There are many writing prompts and writing exercises that can help improve your writing skills. Below are some tips and exercise ideas that will help you hone your creative writing skills:

  1. Keep a journal. One fundamental way to become a better writer is to practice daily writing in a journal. Setting a daily writing time can help you get into the consistent habit of writing and help you push through writer’s block. Freewriting can also turn into blogging and eventually lead to published pieces. The best way to confront the blank page is to keep writing with regularity.
  2. Choose a setting. If you’re having trouble getting started on a piece of writing or want to practice with a writing exercise, choose a location and structure a story around it. Choose someplace with which you have familiarity or are able to thoroughly research.
  3. Describe a real person. One way to get the creative juices flowing and practice writing character development is to freewrite about a real person. This could be anyone in your life: an ex-boyfriend, a former English teacher, or even your younger self. This is a great way to strengthen your powers of description.
  4. Write a series of first sentences. A fun writing activity for your practice sessions is to seek out or create your own prompt sentences that you can use to start a piece of writing. Using a good creative writing prompt can be a fun writing activity that gets you out of your head and helps you put your thoughts onto the page.
  5. Join a writing workshop. Seeking out writing courses can be a great way to meet fellow writers and get a step-by-step approach to the writing process from a teacher you trust. A writing instruction course or workshop is often a more informal group of writers who trade things they’ve written and give suggestions and feedback. A writing class often has a lesson plan with distinct writing lessons that will give you a chance to practice different writing techniques. Teachers of a writing class might give a writing assignment between classes in order to help you develop a specific skill.
  6. Break down your favorite pieces of writing. One good way to develop your own style and learn about the writing process is to analyze a written work that you admire. Look for books or essays by a great writer whose style you would like to emulate and do an in-depth close reading. For instance, if you like Ernest Hemingway, take some time to read The Sun Also Rises while paying close attention to story structure, diction, and stylistic choices.
  7. Write an outline without feeling the pressure to use it. A tip for first-time writers is to spend time outlining and pre-writing ideas without committing to turning them into fully-fledged written works. This practice exercise applies across genre, whether you’re writing a novel or starting out in essay writing.
  8. Edit something you’ve set aside for a while. The best writers never speed through the editing and revising stage on a writing project. First drafts are meant to be revised and it’s important to put the time into editing your work in order to produce something worth reading. Dig up something you haven’t worked on in a while, and practice editing it. Note how have your writing sensibilities have changed over time.
  9. Experiment with different genres. Just because you have more experience or familiarity with a particular type of writing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment in other genres. A great way to develop your own writing and gain practical know-how is to dabble in something out of your comfort zone. Fashion bloggers might try writing short stories and novelists might try their hand at business writing.
  10. Brush up on the rules. Studying grammatical rules and stylistic guidelines can be a great way to spend your time during a writing practice session. Even if you feel that you know grammar inside and out, a little refresher will improve your writing and make you more confident.

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